We’ve all been told that phrase by our fathers, grandfathers or some other significant elder/baseball fan in our life. The expression is often followed up by a story plucked straight from baseball lure, that lies in the memory of the person reminding you how funny of a game baseball really is. We’ve also all heard the though provoking experimentally-based phrase, ‘if a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there to hear it, does it make sound?’
Both phrases will collide tomorrow in the middle of what is a tumultuous and dangerous time for the legendary baseball town that is Baltimore, Maryland. The protests of police brutality by the citizens of Baltimore has turned into rioting, gang-related violence, looting and arson at an inopportune time in the Baltimore Orioles season. The Orioles are currently at home in Baltimore, and slated on their schedule this week is a three-game series against the visiting Chicago White Sox. The first game in the series was supposed to take place on Monday but was postponed by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred at the request of Baltimore mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. This move was decided upon with the safety of Baltimore citizens, Baltimore law-enforcment and both teams in mind. Postponed baseball games happen often, but they are normally accompanied by rain tarps and team-branded ponchos. The status of this series was left hanging in the balance as soon this morning, but this afternoon Major League Baseball announced that tonight’s game between the White Sox and Orioles has also been postponed, with tomorrow’s game slated to still be played with one large caveat: the game will be played without fans. That’s right, the game is closed to the public, and will take place in front of 45,971 empty seats at The Ballpark at Camden Yards.
This will truly be an odd sight for those playing in this game, viewing the telecast at home, and all team employees whose jobs take place at Camden Yards. Will there be ushers and concession stand attendants? Probably not. How about security, bat boys and a PA announcer? We’d assume so, but so much of the goings-on in a Major League ballpark during a game is dedicated to the fans in attendance. Players have long been able to choose the music that is played over the PA system, as they walk to the plate for an at-bat. This nuance, which is another form of entertainment for the fans will most likely be in play but it remains to be seen. A couple of staples in Major League Baseball parks will almost positively be done away with include the kiss-cam, birthday shout-outs, and the seventh-inning stretch… Wait, there’s gotta be a seventh-inning stretch, right? We’ll see, but only because we can tune in at home.
What about the play of the field and the players in this game, though? Will that falter? The players on either Major League club are professionals, and have played in just about every scenario imaginable. One team normally always takes batting practice in front of an empty stadium before the gates open, so the players are used to getting locked in solitude. But how about the natural buzz and crowd noise produced by thousands of spectators during a Major League Baseball game? When was the last time(if ever) that these players have played a game with no crowd? Nobody. Just the company of their teammates and coaches. Probably never! Even in little league and high school, there has to have been at least one supporting parent, interested baseball fan, or even innocent bystander walking ‘Sparky’ in the park next to the field who has stopped to watch some of the game! This will be an interesting experience for both teams.
What if a no-hitter happens? How about a cycle? A triple play? This situation will be abnormal, and wouldn’t it be poetic if something abnormal takes place on the field to sync up with the oddity in the stands? We shall see, but only on TV.